City Legislative Priorities

Strong cities make a great state. Cities house 65 percent of the state’s residents, drive its economy, and provide the most accessible government. The continued success of cities depends on adequate resources and community-based decision-making to best meet the needs of our residents. Preserving local decision-making continues to be one of our core principles.


Watch this short video on AWC's 2020 Legislative Priorities



Adopt a comprehensive set of transportation policies that provide robust new resources and local options

Cities are responsible for a significant share of the statewide transportation system and fund most of that responsibility out of local tax dollars. Cities struggle to meet the $1 billion gap in transportation maintenance and preservation costs. To meet these ever-expanding needs, the state must maintain existing and create new transportation specific revenue options for cities. The state must also develop a statewide transportation package that includes increased resources for city transportation needs.

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Fully fund the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF)

The Public Works Trust Fund is a crucial funding partner in our efforts to provide the necessary infrastructure for our communities. We seek full funding for the program and ask the state to protect the current stream of loan repayments and uphold the 2% state share of REET dedicated to the account. Additionally, we look to strengthen the program by ending the ongoing revenue diversions as soon as possible.

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Create a tax increment financing (TIF) option for cities

Washington’s cities need economic development tools that help maintain, expand, and modernize local infrastructure to spur local private sector investment. By investing in TIF, the Legislature can partner with cities to advance our shared goals of building a robust and diverse economy for communities around the state. For maximum impact, cities need access to both property-tax and sales-tax based TIF programs.

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Preserve city fiscal health with secure funding sources

Cities need revenue authority and flexibility to keep up with community growth and increasing service needs. State investment in shared revenue distributions is instrumental to support essential city programs and services. Responsive revenue options allow local elected officials to make the best community-based decisions about how to keep up with growth and the increasing costs of providing basic services like public safety and transportation. Arbitrary restrictions on local revenue decisions unnecessarily hurt residents by limiting critical local services.

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Support statewide medication assisted treatment (MAT) services in city and regional jails by providing local flexibility

Cities are experiencing the consequences of an overwhelmed state behavioral health system. While the state has made investments to address some of the challenges, more help is needed. Local jails have increasingly been called to action to address opioid use disorder and provide treatment. However, the costs are overwhelming city criminal justice budgets across the state. City jails need additional state support to access MAT services to save lives and reduce recidivism.

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Advance a watershed-based strategic plan to address local fish-blocking culverts along with state culverts

Cities need the state to adopt a broader vision to create a comprehensive response that funds local barrier corrections and provides actual habitat access for fish. Cities recognize that the state is facing a $4 billion price tag to fix fish-blocking culverts that the U.S. Supreme Court has found to impinge on tribal treaty rights to fish harvests. Cities also own 1,300 barriers in the same streams, and similarly have no identified revenues to pay for needed corrections. A statewide approach is the only way to achieve meaningful salmon and orca recovery.

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Continue to pursue new resources and policies to increase affordable housing both at the state and local level

Our communities continue to face a housing crisis and need state support to incentivize housing options. The Legislature can help by proactively supporting cities’ voluntary adoption of more effective ADU ordinances and providing additional councilmanic tax authority for housing. Cities need enhanced tools to attract and preserve multifamily development, like changing the multifamily tax exemption program to open it to smaller cities, extending the tax exemption for continued affordability guarantees, and expanding the ability to preserve existing affordable housing.

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Other fact sheets

Shared revenues with cities: 2019-21 biennium

Lift the property tax cap

Weekly Hot Sheet


Legislative priority process

The AWC Legislative Priorities Committee meets multiple times per year to identify and recommend to the AWC Board of Directors which city issues should be priorities. The committee comprises approximately 40 city officials from throughout the state. The AWC Board of Directors adopts the next year's legislative priorities at its fall meeting. AWC Cities on Tap events are held throughout the fall and include details on AWC’s priorities.


Federal priorities

The health and vitality of local economies are critical to a robust and dynamic national economy. Federal fiscal policies should enhance the ability of local elected officials to respond to needs at the local level. More


Access AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles to search for issue updates by topic.

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